Snow on New Year's Day
- Poetry of Su Shi


- Last updated: 2024-03-23 14:29:29

Snow on New Year's Day by Su Shi











English Translation

I was detained by a heavy snow at Weizhou on New Year's Eve,but on the morning of the first day it cleared and I resumed my journey.Along the way,it started to snow again.

Detained by snow on New Year's Eve,On fine New Year's Day I take leave.

The east wind sobers me,though drunk deep,My lean horse jerks me out of sleep.

Faintly and softly the day breaks,From branches whirl down last snowflakes.

I dismount afield to take wine,But none partake my drink divine.

Suddenly dark clouds gather quick,And heavy snow falls fast and thick.

Like goose feathers it hangs down my horse's mane.

Am I on a phoenix without stain?

For three years the east saw drought rage And the poor desert their village.

A peasant lays aside his plow and sighs,His starving guts ache with tears from his eyes.

Although spring snow comes rather late,Wheat can be sown at any rate.

Of hard journey can I complain?

-I write this to allay your pain.

Created in 1077

Why Chinese poems is so special?
The most distinctive features of Chinese poetry are: concision- many poems are only four lines, and few are much longer than eight; ambiguity- number, tense and parts of speech are often undetermined, creating particularly rich interpretative possibilities; and structure- most poems follow quite strict formal patterns which have beauty in themselves as well as highlighting meaningful contrasts.
How to read a Chinese poem?
Like an English poem, but more so. Everything is there for a reason, so try to find that reason. Think about all the possible connotations, and be aware of the different possibilities of number and tense. Look for contrasts: within lines, between the lines of each couplet and between successive couplets. Above all, don't worry about what the poet meant- find your meaning.

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